When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay, also known as a crown. CEREC® is an acronym for the types of crowns used at Aspen Ridge Dental.
- Chairside: The technology is in the dental operatory, and is used while you are in the chair.
- Economical: The procedure is economical for the patient.
- Restorations: The procedure restores your tooth to its natural beauty, function, and strength.
- Esthetic: The restorations are metal-free and tooth-colored.
- Ceramic: High-strength ceramics are used that are close in composition to your natural tooth structure.
What are inlays and onlays?
Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. These pieces are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay, which is similar to a filling, is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a more substantial reconstruction, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.
Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color, which can potentially match the natural color of your teeth.
If it has been determined that an onlay is indicated, our doctors will take an Optical Impression of the prepared tooth. Instead of filling a tray with impression "goop" that you must bite into and hold in your mouth until it hardens, our doctors will coat the tooth with a non-toxic, tasteless powder. A camera is then used to take a digital picture of your tooth. This whole Optical Impression process only takes a minute or two. A single Appointment and NO Temporaries!
Next, the CEREC® machine helps our doctors create the restoration of your tooth. The CEREC® 3D software takes the digital picture and converts it into a 3-dimensional, virtual model on the computer screen. Our doctors will use their expertise to design the restoration using the CEREC® 3D computer program. Within a few minutes, your dentist clicks a button, and the restoration design data is sent to a separate milling machine in the office.
After this, a ceramic block that matches your tooth shade is placed in the milling machine. About 10 to 20 minutes later, your all-ceramic, tooth-colored, restoration is finished and ready to bond in place. Finally, our doctors will try the restoration in your mouth to ensure proper fit and bite. The restoration is then polished and bonded to the prepared tooth. Your tooth is restored with no "temporary" or return trip necessary.
Considerations for inlays and onlays
Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they can last from 10 to 30 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire dental crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.